Much Demand for Whale Watching Tours

From Húsavík, North Iceland.

From Húsavík, North Iceland. mbl.is/Hafþór Hreiðarsson

Vala Hafstað

The tourism industry in Iceland appears to be bouncing back, judging, at least, from the number of bookings received by whale watching companies.

Stefán Jón Sigurgeirsson, managing director of North Sailing in Húsavík, North Iceland, tells Morgunblaðið that since March, the number of reservations has been growing fast, and faster yet since domestic COVID-19 restrictions were eased in May. He expects this trend to continue.

At present, the company offers three whale watching tours a day, to be increased to five a day, starting July 1, to meet demand. Most of the passengers are foreign tourists.

Stefán states that foreign tourists generally book well in advance, while Icelanders arrive on short notice. “Right now, between 85 and 90 percent of our passengers are foreign tourists,” he estimates. He states the travelers are absolutely delighted with the whale watching experience. “We can never guarantee that whales will be spotted, but in recent weeks, we’ve spotted whales on all our tours,” he states. “If we don’t spot any whales, we offer a free tour until a whale is spotted.”

mbl.is/Eggert Jóhannesson



Rannveig Grétarsdóttir, managing director of the whale watching company Elding, Reykjavík, sounds just as optimistic.

“Things look unbelievably good the latter part of the summer and into the winter. We can’t keep up with the bookings,” she tells mbl.is and adds that starting in August, things look even better than they did in 2019.

“Provided nothing negative happens in the coming weeks and months, the fall and winter look unbelievably good.”

Most of the tourists who have been booking whale watching tours are Americans, and there are some Israelis as well. Germans have started arriving as well, Rannveig states.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, Elding had between 50 and 60 employees. At present, they are 15, and ten additional ones will be hired in the coming weeks.

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